- The Music Library of a Noble Florentine Family: A Catalogue Raisonné of Manuscripts and Prints of the 1720s to the 1850s Collected by the Ricasoli Family Now Housed in the University of Louisville Music Library ed. by Susan Parisi
The Ricasoli music collection represents one of the few rare cases of an aristocratic collection that has been preserved as such and has not been dispersed by wars, bankruptcies, or other common tragedies. The thorough study and complete catalogue provided by Robert Lamar Weaver and his team is a valuable record of musical practices [End Page 732] in eighteenth-century Florence as they can be deciphered in the music scores preserved in the collection.
The book starts with two essays by Weaver. The first is on the historical context of the collection and includes a well-documented attempt to reconstitute its history and genesis. Pietro Leopoldo Ricasoli Zaninchi (1778–1850) was the collection’s main architect. A musical prodigy, he played the organ, harpsichord, piano forte, violin, flute, and violoncello. The first acquisitions relating to his collection are listed under the year 1795: three organ sonatas commissioned by Pietro Leopoldo from the Florentine composer Luigi Pelleschi, maestro di cappella and the family’s harpsichord teacher. Pietro Leopoldo’s collection comprises 139 items, a large part of which is organ music, the rest being sacred vocal music and instrumental music.
The beginnings of the collection, however, can be traced back further. Weaver identifies two women from notable families linked to music as the ones who began the collection. The first was the mother of Pietro Leopoldo, Giulia Acciaiuoli (1756–86). She was a descendant of Filippo Acciaiuoli (1637–1700), an extremely important figure in the operas given in Rome at the very beginnings of the genre. He was an impresario, famous for the scenic devices he produced for several spectacular operas by Jacopo and Alessandro Melani, Bernardo Pasquini, and Pier Simone Agostini, among others, as well as for the intermedi given at the Tordinona, the first public theater in Rome during the 1670–71 season. Giulia played the harpsichord and probably started the first part of the collection. The second woman is Pietro Leopoldo’s wife, Lucrezia Rinunccini (born 1779). Her father was a descendant of Ottavio Rinuccini, the librettist of the first Florentine operas, and her mother was a descendant of the Counts de’ Bardi. She was an accomplished musician, playing several instruments, and kept her own collection (separate from her husband’s), which contains only instrumental music (139 items, mostly sonatas and concertos). Another branch of the family, related to the baron Bettino Giuseppe Ricasoli Firidolfi (1739–1806), seems to have been responsible for the acquisition of operas and sacred music incorporated around 1831 in the Ricasoli Zaninchi library and preserved today in the collection.
Weaver’s second essay is devoted to the practice of music under Pietro Leopoldo Ricasoli. Apart from the private practice of instrumental music, Pietro Leopoldo organized performances of liturgical services in the family chapel from 1791 to 1796. For these performances he commissioned new music, mostly by Florentine composers such as Gaspero Sborgi (harpsichord teacher of Giulia, the mother of Pietro Leopoldo); Vincenzo Bianciardi, who composed ballets for the Cocomero Theater; Luigi Barbieri and Luigi Pelleschi, who were both engaged as teachers for the family’s children; and Luigi Fanfani, maestro di cappella of the Duomo. The most important offices requiring music were the feasts of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (June 21), St. Leopold (November 15), and the Holy Relics (May 3). The music played during these ceremonies survives in the collection and is mostly made up of three-part choral writing with orchestra and solo music. Pietro Leopoldo’s...